Reality check: 0-2 start reveals Saints’ problems

Will it get better, anytime soon?

Maybe. But, for Saints fans, some black-and-gold reality set in last Sunday at the Superdome. Against the Super Bowl champion Patriots, the Saints were non-competitive.

Quarterback Drew Brees tried to put lipstick on a pig. “I am not concerned,” said Brees. “It is only a matter of time. I feel like there were some things that came together this week that weren’t there last week. It just hasn’t been there yet.”

The Saints were 0-2 for the fourth consecutive season. But this felt different than the past three seasons. They were outclassed at Minnesota and then dismantled by New England.

There may be little head coach Sean Payton can do to right the ship. The roster is, for the most part, set for the rest of the season. There is no one on the waiver wire who will come and make a huge impact.

The Saints will be better when wide receiver Willie Snead returns from suspension. And, they will be better when starting offensive tackles Terron Armstead and Zach Strief return from injury.

But, again, reality smacks you in the face. The Saints have a Hall of Fame quarterback who will be 39 years old in January, playing with a subpar roster.

Hours after the Saints fell to the Patriots, the Atlanta Falcons opened their Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a win over Packers. The Falcons have a talented, young roster.

Quarterback Matt Ryan, behind a solid offensive line, hands the ball to Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Ryan throws it to wide receivers Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu.

Defensively, the Falcons have an elite pass rusher in Vic Beasley, one of the better linebackers in the league in Jesuit’s and LSU’s Deion Jones, and a star in safety Keanu Neal. Atlanta has drafted superbly and made outstanding free agent pick-ups.

Meanwhile, the Saints spent a first-round pick on linebacker Stephone Anthony and a third-round pick in that same 2015 draft on quarterback Garrett Grayson. No player from the 2014 Saints draft is currently on the roster.

In this year’s draft, the Saints traded second- and seventh-round picks to the 49ers to get back into the third and select running back Alvin Kamara. Kamara may be outstanding at some point, but for now he’s performing like a rookie adjusting to the NFL game.

The signing of Adrian Peterson has taken carries away from the Saints’ best runner, Mark Ingram.

On defense, maybe cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Marcus Williams will be good players. But, right now, other than defensive end Cam Jordan, would the Saints have a player on defense that would start for another team in the NFL? I don’t think so.

It isn’t time to write off the 2017 season yet. But, in the span of six days, the Saints showed they are a closer to a total rebuild than almost anyone thought.​

Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at edaniels@clarionherald.org.

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